Wednesday 9 March 2022
On Tuesday 7 March I attended the address given by the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky to the House of Commons. It is without precedent for a non-member of parliament to speak in the chamber of the House, but it brought to us directly his message of determination to resist the Russian invasion of his country, whatever it takes. I have never before seen the chamber so packed with Members of Parliament, including in all of the galleries, as we listened with great attention to the translation of his speech. All the expert advice before the war was that the Russians would overrun Kyiv within a few days, but this has been prevented by the valiant resistance led by President Zelensky. This is a struggle not just for Ukraine, but for the principles that underpin freedom and democracy around the world. As the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson told Parliament after the President’s address, we will do all that we can to support them.
The UK has stepped up its support for the people of Ukraine by providing both military and humanitarian assistance; the total aid for Ukraine and the region for the current crisis comes to £395 million. We have also created a new International Ukraine Support Group along with Canada and the Netherlands, to coordinate global efforts and provide long-term humanitarian, economic and military support to the region. The Government is also strengthening and accelerating our response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine by passing key measures in our Economic Crime Bill – including shortening the deadline to register overseas entities, ensuring easier enforcement global sanctions, and broadening the scope of Unexplained Wealth Orders.
We are a generous nation, and in response to the atrocious situation in Ukraine, as ever, the British public have been proactive and willing to donate to support people fleeing conflict. After just four days the Disasters and Emergency Committee (DEC) fundraiser has raised a staggering £100 million – more than £1 million an hour – which will directly support thirteen leading UK charities providing on the ground aid in Ukraine and neighbouring eastern European countries. Being the largest bilateral humanitarian donor is an achievement to be proud of, and a beacon of the very best of humanity during these darkening times.
More locally, The Chambers in Folkestone has done an excellent job collating generous donations from around the constituency – with the help of Romney Marsh Community Hub and the Age UK centres in Lyminge and Folkestone – and have already dispatched a car and van full of medicines and essentials. Large local employer Church & Dwight have also made a considerable contribution by sending forty-one pallets worth of vitally needed hygiene products to help those fleeing Ukraine. I know that Bigjigs Toys, Freight 44 of Lympne, and several other local churches and community groups have also gone out of their way to do their bit, helping those in a time of need. Whilst we all hope it will not be needed for long, I have no doubt that the local community will continue to do everything they can, for as long as they can, to help the Ukrainian people.